Am I glad I cancelled my Economist subscription

Since I cancelled my subscription to the Economist in the light of its deteriorating coverage about all things Israeli, and its continual shift towards the territory inhabited by the haters at the Guardian and the Independent, I have had no regrets. I have read a few issues since then, borrowed from others, or seen in airport lounges. Each time, I would run my eye over their Israeli coverage, and whatever was there simply reaffirmed how right I was to get out of their nasty, poisonous pit.

I was, therefore, not surprised the publication was among those promoting – and certainly not reporting on, or reviewing – Ben Ehrenreich‘s book about Nabi Saleh and the Tamimi family, The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine.  (See here.)

And so, I am also not surprised by their latest contribution to the hate, as reported on at UK Media Watch:

A serious journalist who wished to provide an analysis to news consumers on the recent Olympic scandal involving an Egyptian judoka who refused to shake the hand of his Israeli competitor may have contextualized the incident by noting endemic Egyptian antisemitism. Indeed, though Cairo and Jerusalem signed a peace agreement in 1979, and ties between the two countries (on the governmental level) have never been closer, there is little if any sign that Egyptian animosity towards Jews – not just Israelis, but Jews qua Jews – has waned.

In 2011, a Pew Global poll revealed that only 2% of Egyptians had favorable attitudes towards Jews.

More recently, an ADL commissioned poll reported that 75% of Egyptians held antisemitic views – a sign of an entrenched hatred that persists despite the fact that there are almost no Jews left in the country.

Yet, remarkably, the Economist’s “N.P.” (presumably Nicolas Pelham), in ‘Politics hogs the Olympic spotlight‘, Aug. 15, ignores Egyptian antisemitism in his report on the conduct of the Egyptian athlete, and does his best to turn the story into one of Israeli hypocrisy.

Steel yourself, then read it all here. And if you have a subscription, cancel it now. You will feel so much better!

Academic fails to think

From the Guardian, a little insight into part of Australian society:

Professor Barry Spurr suspended by Sydney University over offensive emails

Spurr, a consultant to the federal government’s national English curriculum review, has been suspended over ‘serious allegations’, university says

The University of Sydney has suspended Prof Barry Spurr over emails in which he called the prime minister, Tony Abbott, an “Abo lover”, Indigenous Australians “human rubbish tips” and Nelson Mandela as a “darky”.

In a statement, the university said Spurr was facing “serious allegations in relation to offensive emails sent from a university account”.

Spurr, a poetry expert, was a specialist consultant to the federal government’s national curriculum review looking at English from foundation to year 12.

The emails, first obtained by website New Matilda, have seriously damaged the review’s findings, with Labor calling them “tainted” and the Australian Education Union saying the review had been exposed as “an ideological waste of time from the start”.

In a series of emails over two years sent to senior academics and officials within the university, Spurr wrote that Abbott would have to be surgically separated from his “Siamese twin”, Australian of the Year and AFL star Adam Goodes, who is Aboriginal.

He said the university’s chancellor, Belinda Hutchinson, was an “appalling minx”,’ while other women were described as “whores”. He used terms such as “mussies” and “chinky-poos”.

Oh dear.

Here’s a prime example (if it is true) of how a smart guy, a noted academic, failed to think:

Spurr had not responded on Friday, but has said previously the emails were part of a “whimsical” game with another person to outdo each other in extreme statements and were not meant to be taken seriously.

Not a great idea to play such a daft game.

There’s a whimsical interest of mine to know whether his professional abilities as a poet were a major factor in his attraction to a game of racist name calling. Is that performance art, perhaps?

Given the Guardian’s promotion of its own manifesto in its Middle East reporting, is there any of the same phenomenon going on here? For example, whatever the quality of Aboriginal literary culture may or may not be, does the Guardian believe it should be positively promoted? Regardless? If any independent thinkers out there (who are knowledgeable on the subject) would care to enlighten me, I would be grateful.

See the complete train wreck, here.

Peace, love, and hate

From the Times of Israel:


First, do you think any of the ‘peace activists’ out there think there might be something slightly off about this guy’s approach?

Second, what are the prospects for peace when there is this apparent policy of non engagement on the so called pro Palestinian side? How does this help the case?

Third, why is it that there’s only pressure after pressure piled on Israel and its leadership to engage in talks when (a) it’s the Palestinian leadership that walked away; and (b) the Palestinian leadership promotes non engagement? Where is the pressure on them to get down to the business of sorting this mess out, instead of childish gestures, and non engagement?

Bradford’s off my list of places to visit

George Galloway is the reason why:

“We have declared Bradford an Israel free zone. We don’t want any Israeli goods. We don’t want any Israeli services. We don’t want any Israeli academics, coming to the university or the college. We don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford if any of them had thought of doing so. We reject this illegal, barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel. And you have to do the same.”

I don’t think he likes us. And I was so looking forward to my visit to the tourist attractions in Bradford…

As seen at Guido Fawkes’ blog.

Some of their best friends are Jewish

On a day to day basis, while anti-Jewish incitement is a regular state inspired occurrence in the Arab world, it is still working away in the background of much of the Western media – directly or indirectly.

One fine example of this, directly, is the Guardian. (The BBC is not far behind.)

If there is an anti-Israel story, they’ve got it with knobs on and suitable prominence.

If there is a neutral to Israel story, you will only see it there with the most anti-Israel spin available.

If there is a pro-Israel story, it’s either buried, or bracketed with opinion pieces from Israel haters.

And if there is no Israel story or news, there’s typically an anti-Israel CIF piece offered to the circus that constitutes the Guardian’s online fan club.

Without exception – but do tell me if you spot one – the anti-Israel pieces encourage antisemitism. If they don’t do it above the line, those allowing comments are fertile breeding ground for bigots.

By way of a sample, take a look at the two most recent articles by CIF Watch in their Focus below the line series, here, and here.

I’ve posted a sample here. These are below the line comments which remain. In other words, directly or indirectly, this hate speech is condoned by the Guardian.


Perhaps the next time there’s an initiative to stop incitement in the Arab media, we could invite the Guardian people along to the meeting. There’s so much they could learn…

Meantime, we should thank people like CIF Watch who shine a light into the darkest pits.


This reminds me

This, from BBC Watch, reminds me of something:

Why we need to talk about the BBC’s promotion of Middle East conspiracy theories

Here is David Aaronovitch – who knows a thing or two about conspiracy theories – writing in The Times(£):

“It’s the late morning, two days ago. And I’m sitting in a BBC studio to discuss the death of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, in 2004.” […] 

“[….] one of my fellow panellists is a veteran Palestinian journalist, Abdel Bari Atwan, and Atwan is in no mood to examine the alternatives. His first jump is to assert without qualification that the scientists have concluded that Arafat was murdered with polonium-210. His second leap is to state, unequivocally, that Israel did it. No question.

And then he pulls a fact out of his sleeve. Only three countries have access to polonium-210: Russia, the US and you-know-who. Russia couldn’t have done it, America wouldn’t have and that leaves only one possibility. When I get home I look this “fact” up and I can find only one source. An article by Abdel Bari Atwan, and it isn’t true.

Too late for correction. And in any case Atwan has a Twitter audience of nearly 300,000, mostly in the Arab world. The thing is already inscribed in stone.”

Aaronovitch is right, of course. Conspiracy theories tend to fall on particularly fertile ground in the Middle East, not infrequently morphing into lethal narratives.

The question is though, how can a publicly funded organization which has its entire raison d’etre set out in the charter and agreement which are its constitutional basis and which define its public purposes – including “promoting education and learning” and building “a global understanding of international issues” – justify  the provision of a platform for the amplification (and legitimization, through the stamp of BBC respectability and its unrivalled outreach) of conspiracy theories?

It is difficult to imagine the BBC inviting ‘Elvis is alive’ or ‘the moon landing was faked’ conspiracy theorists to participate as regular panel members on its current affairs programmes, and yet BBC editors and producers apparently cannot grasp that Abdel Bari Atwan at best falls into the same genre. In fact, Atwan’s promotion of conspiracy theories is fuelled by his political motivations, putting him into an altogether less eccentric category.

Last week the BBC covered the recent publication of a report from the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency showing that antisemitism in Europe is once again on the rise. One of the many topics addressed in that report is that of antisemitism stemming from perceptions of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which of course the majority of Europeans learn about through the mainstream media.

Members of the media in general would do well at this point to devote some thought to the subject of the trickle-down effects of irresponsible, inaccurate coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict as a catalyst for increased antisemitism both in Europe and beyond.

But another of the BBC’s public purposes – going under the title of “sustaining citizenship and civil society” – obliges BBC management in particular to consider this subject very seriously, with its recent amplification of Arafat-related conspiracy theories (by no means limited to the programme in which David Aaronovitch took part) being a good place to start.

And what does this remind me of?

  • It reminds me of what it is like to have the BBC as a main news provider.
  • It reminds me of what it’s like to live in the UK and be bombarded – sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly – with out and out anti-Israel or anti-Jewish or combination material that, collectively amounts to a delegitimization campaign.
  • It reminds me that this scenario is an often unreported cause of intermarriage and of people drifting away from their heritage and their religion.

Every little particle of poison, every little lining of lies, is an attack that goes largely unremarked on, and largely without accountability.

Kudos to BBC Watch for taking them to task.

When will somebody in authority listen?

When orthodoxy and bigotry collide

A shameful interview (on Israel’s largely unwatched tv channel 10) with the mayor of Beit Shemesh, as reported on by Ynet:

Mayor: No gays in Beit Shemesh

In Channel 10 interview Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul suggests Health Ministry, police should handle gay community.

‘Abutbul not worthy to be public official,’ resident says

What does the mayor of Beit Shemesh think of the gay community? In a channel 10 talk show interview that aired Friday the recently reelected ultra-Orthodox mayor, Moshe Abutbul, said that it was the responsibility of the Health Ministry and the police to handle the LGBT community.

Does this guy have a direct line to Putin?

Asked if the city has gay residents, he replied, “We have no such thing. If you mean what I think you mean – then no. Thank God, this city is holy and pure.” Asked how the city handles the gay community he said, “There’s the Health Ministry, let them handle it. The Health Ministry, the police.”

If there’s one thing the mayor proved, it’s that his city is neither holy nor pure.

The interview caused uproar among many current and former Beit Shemesh residents. “There are hundreds of gay men and women in Beit Shemesh and it saddens me that he thinks we should be treated by the Health Ministry and the police,” said Segev Israel Afriat, a resident of the city.

“He is a contemptible man who is not worthy of being an elected public official. He is unaware of the situation in the city, he chooses to see only the yeshivot. If he has a problem, he’s welcome to pack his bags and move to Bnei Brak. We will not be silent.”

Segev was being polite.

Elinor Sidi, director of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, and former Beit Shemesh resident, added: “As one who was born and raised in Beit Shemesh, I can only lament the transformation the city has undergone in the past couple of years. Xenophobia, ignorance, homophobia and racism have replaced the warming of hearts which once characterized Beit Shemesh.

“I studied at a religious school in a tolerant atmosphere which embraced the other instead of rejecting him. Abutbul’s Judaism is not the Judaism I learned as a child. Beit Shemesh had gay residents long before Abutbul.”

Abutbul’s Judaism is not my Judaism; it’s not anybody’s Judaism. Indeed, Abutbul’s Judaism is not Judaism. He let the mask slip.

Abutbul’s communications director did not wish to comment.

Hello, Mr Communications Director. Time to communicate! Time to pass a message to Mr Abutbul: his bigotry, his homophobia, and his righteous mask are not welcome. He should go. Far away. And soon.